Very few books are written in a vacuum. They are the sum total of the author’s reading experiences, both fiction and non-fiction. Someone on Facebook asked me recently what sort of research went in to creating the world of The Lion of Cairo. So I snapped a few pictures. Keep in mind, these are only the books that were readily at hand. There are several more parceled away in boxes in my office closet.
All of these added life to the setting, to the characters; they helped define the look of the setting or deepened it by providing material for anecdotes, history, and myth. Street scenes were fleshed out with colors, scents, and sounds drawn from first-hand accounts. Like cooking, the key is knowing how much of any given spice to add to the broth — a skill learned over time and honed through successive drafts.
But how historically accurate was The Lion of Cairo? It wasn’t. I cobbled together locations from disparate sources, created composite characters, moved things around on the timeline, and transported Mameluke Cairo back 200 years to fit my needs, and borrowed liberally from both Harold Lamb and Robert E. Howard (specifically, “Gates of Empire”).
Need a copy? Here’s a link to the Kindle version!